The mechanisms on this site are interpretations of Henry T. Brown's "507 Mechanical Movements," a reference book of mechanisms written in the 1860s. It's one of those rare coffee-table books that I actually repeatedly pick up and page through, and I highly recommend buying a copy no matter your occupation.
I am currently a mechanical design engineer at Formlabs, and although I improve an enormous amount here every day, this project started from a realization I had in December 2019:
Musicians play for hours every day. Writers write constantly to refine their voices. Industrial designers are always sketching, sometimes just pages of ellipses to hone their technique. How can I expect to become a great at product development if I'm not doing the same?
I started designing these in December 2019 as a way to practice. Despite having nearly a decade of CAD experience and dozens of real-life electromechanical systems under my belt, I was surprised at how much can be learned from even the simplest mechanisms.
I'm not sure where this project is headed, but I'm going to keep practicing as long as I'm still learning.
How They're Made
Each of the machines is first designed in Solidworks or Onshape, and then printed on Formlabs' Form 3. Nothing is painted or colored, and instead things like arrows, dots, and borders are printed very small and carefully inlaid into the main part. All parts are either as-printed or lightly sanded with a coat of mineral oil.
1. Why are some skipped?
I skip some of the less novel ones. For example, #12 to #23 are all different configurations of pulleys, so I picked three of those and skipped the rest for now.
2. Why are the descriptions so odd?
For the nameplates on each machine, I took Mr. Brown's description and abridged them to fit in the space. It's a balance of the spirit, the goofy 19th century phrasing, and brevity.
3. Can I download CAD or .STL files?
Not at the moment, but I'll be working something out eventually. Contact me for specific inquiries!
4. How was the lettering on the nameplates done?
I'm fortunate enough to work at Formlabs where the printers are made, and I had a script written for me by a process engineer* that allows me to pause the prints at specific layers and change colors. It's extremely tedious, time consuming, and often gets colors blended together and ruined, so don't expect to see it as a feature any time soon!
A few people have helped me along the way, by writing a script, starting and washing prints for me, or just being very supportive and enthusiastic. Thank you Robert Gambee*, Lucian Chapar, Niki Entin, Chris Mandy, Sean Munnis, Kevin Hansen, and the whole Martens team.
I would also like to thank Matt Keveney of 507movements.com. His awesome website animates many of the movements and it was another big inspiration for me. Please check it out and share his site as well!